John Price, 82, from North Yorkshire, was found guilty of attacking the children when he worked in Methodist churches in York and Pocklington, East Yorkshire, during the 1970s and 80s.

He denied all 13 counts of indecent assault on the boys then aged between 11 and 17.

One victim, who read out a personal statement in court, said the abuse had left him in "a chasm of absolute despair".

The trial also heard how Price offered to hypnotise the children before they were sexually assaulted.

None of the survivors believed they had been hypnotised but they froze in horror at what the senior church figure was doing, the jury heard.

One of the boys was told not to be "silly" when he complained to a senior church figure- who has since died.

Specialist abuse lawyer, Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon, said: “This case involved a horrific breach of trust. It is yet another case where a minister of religion used clerical authority to perpetrate vile abuse.”

He added: “It confirms that the churches need to radically change their approach to child protection so that all concerns are reported and investigated under a mandatory reporting law.

“Only with such a law in place can we hope to ensure that such abuse is prevented in the future.”

Price told the jury he had done nothing to be ashamed of.

Detective Constable Adam Parkinson, from North Yorkshire Police, commended the courage of the survivors of abuse “in coming forward after so long and reliving their experiences.”